DJ Snake thrills, main stage distracts from acts at ZoukOut 2017

DJ Snake performs on stage during the first day of ZoukOut 2017. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - As one of the hottest DJs in the world, Frenchman DJ Snake, showed beyond a doubt, that he deserved that title with a blistering 75-minute set that culminated in fireworks and confetti to round off day one of annual dance music festival ZoukOut on Saturday (Dec 9).

In its 17th year, the two-day event held over the weekend of Dec 8 and 9 saw 40,000 partygoers in attendance for the dusk-to-dawn event. Last year's attendance was larger at more than 41,000, while it's 15th year in 2015 drew 45,000 people.

Dropping monster smash hits such as his Justin Bieber collaboration Let Me Love You and bangers including Ocho Cinco off his debut album Encore, his was perhaps the only act of the night with such an infectious energy - and unfettered dance moves on the DJ console - that it could compete with the main stage itself.

The overly elaborate and tacky main stage that could have belonged to a getai show, proved to be a distraction from the other headline acts at the annual beach dance music festival on Sentosa's Siloso Beach.

The Moon Stage, as it is called, with its towering "lion head" (that looked more like a dragon) with eyes that shot laser beams, seemed an ill-advised attempt to keep up with the iconic stages of international dance music festivals such as Tomorrowland and Ultra.

Jam-packed with everything from strobe lights to lasers, LED panels, CO2 jets and pyrotechnics, it was a centrepiece that certainly went for scale.

The problem was especially apparent with acts such as Grammy-winning Australian DJ-producer Flume. While his sets are typically known for their strong visuals on screen as he drops hits such as Never Be Like You and Smoke & Retribution, this time they were hindered by busy design elements on stage such as "claws" that obscured the side screens.

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Last year's Moon Stage was smaller and uniquely shaped like the Zouk logo of an eye, making for a spectacular backdrop for the acts.

That said, the acts delivered anyway, playing to different crowd demographics over the course of the night.

Asian crew 88 Rising - comprising Indonesian-Chinese rapper Rich Chigga and Chinese group Higher Brothers - brought grimy hip hop and trap beats to the beach, drawing an early crowd at 11pm.

Australian DJ-producer Flume was the class act of the night bringing atmosphere and futuristic glitchy beats to the mix, while Dutch DJ Rehab, who followed after him, was unapologetically mainstream in his choices to play crowd pleasing EDM remixes of Rihanna, Coldplay and Ed Sheeran.

Headline act DJ Snake, however, was the highlight of the night for many, drawing the biggest crowd of the 15,000 partygoers who attended on day one of the festival.

It was a similar case on day two as plenty more party goers showed up to see acts such as Swedish DJ duo Axwell and Ingrosso, Dutch DJ duo Yellow Claw and masked DJ Marshmello.

The organisers went for surefire acts with this year's line up, with the vast majority of them having played in Singapore before - whether at previous editions of ZoukOut or other dance music festivals here. While entertaining and high energy, there was little that was fresh about their sets.

The smaller Star Stage proved to have more inspired choices, hosting artists such as rising Belgian techno DJ Amelie Lens, whose set was a welcome respite from an EDM-fuelled night.

But the recycled line up did not seem to matter for some such as Mr Armand Izzaq, 19, who was attending a music festival for the first time. "I've been for a lot of concerts but I've only ever watched festivals like Ultra and ZoukOut on YouTube - to experience it live was amazing," says the student who attended day one on Friday.

"The highlight for me was seeing 88rising and DJ Snake who were really brilliant natural performers - it felt unreal to see them in the flesh."

He adds that he will definitely be attending ZoukOut next year, and other music festivals from now on.

This year ZoukOut also partnered with bungy jump attraction AJ Hackett Sentosa, which had a 50m tall Bungy Jump Tower, Giant Swing, Vertical Skywalk and 40m long Skybridge operating within the festival area. There was a steady stream of partygoers trying out the activities over both nights.

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